Friday, May 13, 2016

Ellicott City - Rome

May 13, 2016 Peace and Good, This past week I got to visit some of my family down in Norfolk where I baptized my grand nephew, Luke Henry Winkler. It was good to see them all, since I rarely have time to get in contact with them. I was surprised when I met the pastor of my nephew's church. I taught him scripture back in the 90's. Saturday evening I flew back to Rome. The weather here is much more pleasant than it was on the east coast these past couple of weeks. This is a week to catch up on various things (for me, daily reflections, articles for the Messenger magazine, etc.) so that I can be ready for the meeting of the definitory next week. It is also a good time for me to get over jet lag. Sometimes it is not all that bad, but this time it really hit me. I have two weeks to get back on schedule before I head out to Korea on the 22nd. I finished some books: Israel’s Praise: Doxology against Idolatry and Ideology by Walter Brueggemann I have been using this book for spiritual reading. Brueggemann’s thesis is that Israel’s words of praise were not only a subversive act during times of persecution, they also helped to create a new world of understanding in which God reigned. He warns, though, that words of praise can be misused by those in authority to placate the crowd so that they accept the status quo. Words of praise, according to Brueggemann, should always be tied to expressions of pain and disaster from which God has delivered us. Otherwise, we are in danger of positing of God who is a passive observer of what is going on but who does not get involved. Furthermore, the liturgy should be a moment of challenge for those in authority to be instruments of God’s deliverance instead of trying to protect their power and privilege. This book has given me many ideas to think about over these coming months. Crash Course: The American Automobile Industry’s Road from Glory to Disaster by Paul Ingrassia This is the story of how the big three (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) lost their lead of some of the most important companies in the country. They were poorly led and the unions managed to receive benefits that were unsustainable. In the 60’s through the 90’s they went through periods of boom and bust, but they never seem to have learned the important lessons from the leaner periods (nor those what they should have learned from the Japanese makers of cars who made inroad after inroad into their sales). The account is one of a clearly frustrated author who cannot understand how the managers of the car companies could make such foolish mistakes. Into the Storm by Reed Timmer This is the story of a self-confessed weather geek who loves chasing tornadoes. At times, his story descends into an apologia as to why he takes risks that other storm chasers try to avoid. Overall, though, there are many beautiful descriptions of weather fronts and the consequences of severe weather. Timmer starts out as a student of weather at the University of Oklahoma in Norman and continues through his career as an undergraduate and then graduate student, until after his graduation he has designed his own equipment for the chase. Throughout the book there is a childlike wonder at nature, mixed at times with a childish carelessness. The Six Wives of Henry VIII by Alison Weir This is a very long account of King Henry VIII’s relationship with his six wives. It gives an enormous amount of detail, almost all of it interesting. It shows each of the wives as a real person. It is not apologetic for Henry’s personality which was not always the kindest or more reasonable. He, in fact, is shown as moody (especially in his later illnesses) and always suspicious (possibly because he was always dissembling himself in politics and his personal relationships). The book is worth a read, but it is quite a commitment, not unlike Michener’s novels. Bitter Lemons of Cyprus: Life on a Mediterranean Island by Lawrence Durrell This is the account of how a British author comes to Cyprus to find his inspiration. He buys a small house which he fixes up. Up to this point, the story reminds one quite a bit of books like A Year in Tuscany. He comes to know the villagers and become part of their world. Eventually he gets a job in the press office of the British governor. Around this time, the Cypriot Greeks begin to militate for independence from Great Britain and union with Greece. The Cypriot Turks, on the other hand, are dead set against this. Violence begins. First, it is simply slogans on walls and stones thrown at riot police. Eventually it evolves into bombs and assassinations. The account is well written, with much time spent on the natural beauty of the island and the character of the people living there. I hope you have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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